Stuck With Waiting

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The buyers who are in escrow for the marital home have had a second escrow fall through on their condo. Our house sale is contingent on them selling their current home and that just ain’t happenin’.

Voldemort has had the marital settlement agreement for almost four months and hasn’t made a peep to my attorneys. If I were a gambler, I’d bet he’s waiting for the house to sell, but that’s taking forevah.

So I’m stuck.  Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

Just Call Me An iSheeple

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I’ve held my own against the smartphone/iPhone tide. I’ve clung to my little flip-phone (aka burner phone) for eight years. Then this happened:

A few weeks ago, I went to an event alone and saw one of kid #3’s friends. Friend of #3 had colored her hair the most amazing shade of blue in honor of an anime character from Persona 4 whom they both like. I said, “I love your hair! #3 will be sorry she wasn’t here to see it!”

Friend of #3: (laughing) “Just take a picture with your phone.” (Poses.)

Me: “Ummm, I don’t think my phone has a camera.” (Check to be sure.) “Nope, no camera.”

Friend of #3: (Look of horrified teenage pity shot my way.)

And last week we (#1, #3, and I) went to the mall, an awful enough experience on its own, right? #3 wanted to go to a huge candy store while #1 and I went to JCPenney. No problem, we agreed to meet her at the benches right outside the sweet shop in 30 minutes.

You know what happened, of course. What always happens when you violate the first rule of suburban survival (never split up at the mall).  She wasn’t there. This was partly due to the fact that there were a total of three cashiers in the entirety of Penney’s 20,000 square foot store and we ran late. But still.

I tried calling #3 on her phone. Got voice mail. Waited five minutes. Got the brilliant idea to text her. On my flip-phone without a Qwerty keyboard.  Oh heavenly days, it took me almost 10 minutes to tap out the following:

were at candy store where r u

It was almost physically painful to hit send. I couldn’t find the cap button, much less any punctuation whatsoever. And by the end of that missive, I completely understood why it’s acceptable to use “r” for “are” and “u” for “you.” I was exhausted.

We reunited eventually and I ordered a refurbished iPhone 4 as soon as we got home. Apparently, I do have some actual use for a phone that does more than make and receive voice calls.

So I’ll be joining the iCrowd as soon as it ships and I figure out how to work the damn thing.

For the record, in her first month as a smartphone owner, kid #3 sent and received 2,237 text messages. I have no idea how she communicated before.

More Dead Trees

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Kid #3 starts high school in about two weeks. I’ve already put in a couple of hours going to the district office to fill out forms for an intradistrict transfer and following up with the school to get her registered. The school doesn’t actually register new students until a few days before classes start, so I didn’t get that paperwork until last week.

And her last name was misspelled. My last name was spelled correctly. We have the same last name. Huh? Since it’s still summer break, my calls went unanswered, even though I called during the hours the outgoing message claimed the school was staffed. I finally sent the registrar an email and she got the name corrected within 10 minutes.

Okay, lesson learned. From this point forward I’m communicating with the school via email whenever possible.

Registration forms are filled out online through a supposedly secure parent portal. (So why’d they send me two packets of papers? Those were the instructions to fill out the online forms, G*d help me.) I’m guessing an enterprising 12 year old could probably hack the system, but for my 52 year old mom purposes, it was secure enough. It took the better part of an hour to fill out the 10 pages of material.

I got really hung up on the family contacts page. According to both the Family Court Services (FCS) mediator and our Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), I have sole physical custody and we share joint legal custody. But the MSA hasn’t been signed or finalized so I don’t have any documentation to back that up. Is it even appropriate to put Voldemort down as an emergency contact? #3 would rather die from the Black Plague than get in Voldemort’s car to go to the doctor. And since he’s never taken her to the doctor, he wouldn’t know where to go anyway.

I decided I was legally bound to put him in the “parent 2” slot on the form, but only checked the emergency contact box. I’m in the “parent 1” slot with all the boxes (including “has custody”) checked.

Once I did that, a new screen popped up asking for his contact information. Crap. I’m sure his address is on the divorce petition, but is this really my responsibility? The FCS report clearly states that each parent is responsible for contacting the school directly for school calendars, progress reports, report cards, and parent-teacher conferences. Should I give the school his home address or his work address? His cell phone number or his office number?

Any information at all?

I compromised by giving his email address. Once #3 is actually registered (we have to go in and finish the process next week), I’ll ask the school how this mess is usually sorted. Then I’ll email Voldemort and let him know.

The FCS report is crystal clear, but in the settlement meeting eight freaking months ago, Mr. Men’s Rights Attorney gave me a monologue on how I’m supposed to make sure the school has Voldemort’s email address for teacher communications, and on and on. Mr. Men’s Rights’ instructions blatantly contradicted the FCS report with a focus on making things as convenient as possible for Voldemort while placing the burden for getting things done on me.

My divorce feels a lot like my marriage in that way.

How To Create A Monster

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Kid #3 turned 14 last month. I know! I can hardly believe it either. She starts high school at the end of this month, too.

I didn’t want her to go to high school without a cell phone, mostly because I have nightmares of her stuck in the middle of a SWAT action with no way to get hold of me. (Not really sure what I could do in a SWAT action, but the upshot is the kid needed a cell phone…just in case.)

My friend, Google, really came through for me on this. I found a no-contract service provider* that charges based on actual usage instead of guessing what her needs might be any given month (and probably overpaying, which just pisses me off).

So I bought her a smartphone for her birthday.

At first, she was supremely unimpressed and indifferent.

That lasted about two hours.

Over her birthday weekend, she sent and received more than 100 texts. As of this writing, she’s up to 1,156 texts. And we’ve still got a week left in the billing period.

I may have created a monster.

 

*Because of the cookies and other stuff I don’t understand how to change, this is an affiliate link. If you click through it and end up signing up, you’ll get a $25 credit and so will I. If you want to avoid that, just google “ting.com.”  I can wholeheartedly recommend their customer service — they’re awesome.  And you can’t beat the price…but if you do, please tell me!

Words Matter

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I’m guilty of at least a couple of these (don’t get your dress dirty and you don’t want to mess with that.  Okay, and this project is getting out of control, too.). In my head, I meant those words differently, but what do you suppose my daughters heard when I said them?

And geez, I might have to cut Verizon, or at least their ad agency, some slack. This is a seriously awesome commercial.

 

A Faceful

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My birthday was last month and I’ve wanted to get a makeover for months. I was worried I’d gotten stuck in a stay-at-home mom look which was aging badly. My Auntie J gave me a gift card to fund this project and I made an appointment at the local M.A.C. counter which happened to coincide with Auntie J’s summer visit.

We met at the counter and it got off to a rocky start as the makeup artist I was scheduled with had called in sick. But another one was there and she was available, so no harm, no foul.

I brought in a lovely photo of Julianne Moore to demonstrate that I wanted a polished, subtle look. No smeary/smoky eyes. No two-inch long false eyelashes. I have similar coloring to Ms. Moore (in the broadest sense possible, i.e., we’re both fair-skinned and light-eyed) and thought she was a good starting point.

And in the beginning, it worked.

But then Maria, the makeup artist, got creative.

She told me I had beautiful skin, and proceeded to spackle on at least four different types of concealers, foundations, and powders.

She moved on to my eyes, starting at my eyebrows, which happen to be blonde because (spoiler!) I happen to be blonde. They’re too light, she said, and drew on the eyebrows of Brooke Shields in her early modeling days.

Things just went from bad to worse.

Instead of subtle, flattering eye makeup, I got dark brown shadow and heavy eyeliner (both liquid pencil/magic marker? and powder). I objected and Maria tsked, but wiped a little off.

In the end, I had a face absolutely full of makeup. It was very glamorous, but completely unrealistic for my daily life. Heaven knows how much time it would take me to layer all that stuff on every day.  Assuming I could muster the will and energy to even try.

I used my gift card to buy a carefully edited selection of products and thanked Maria for her time. She badgered me to come back when I start dating (See? People are forever pushing me to date!) and let her do whatever she wants.

I can just imagine the Match.com headline: “Middle-aged single mom held together by the best magical forces of cosmetics available,  seeking a near-sighted man who would believe the illusion.”  The first outing would have to be to a dark bar or movie theater.

The Devil’s In The Details

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Another dispatch from the divorce-motivated home sale front.

We got the first offer from the buyers we’re currently in escrow with on May 3rd. We went through four counter-offers to get to a deal everyone could agree on.

Four.

It was a pain in the ass. And while we were countering and counter-countering ‘round the mulberry bush, we got two other offers. That added more chaos to the process, but also proved the real estate maxim that the market picks up in late Spring true.

Since we had other offers, we were able to get the buyers to come up in price a bit. We also made the fact that we were selling the house in as-is condition very clear in writing.  With every single counter-offer.

I didn’t want to deal with contractors and repairs and re-inspections after all the time, effort, and money we’d (I’d) already put into the paint, faucets, window coverings, carpet, and tile.

Well, too bad for me. And too bad for the written contract, because after the buyers did their inspection, they made a request for repairs. On the upside, they just wanted money. They didn’t ask that the repairs be made (and managed by me) before close of escrow. They just picked a number and asked for the money to make the repairs. When I balked at the amount, their agent said they were “firm.”

Hey, we were pretty damn firm about as-is condition.

Eventually, we came up halfway on the money and they verbally accepted. But the paperwork never came through. Days passed and our agent was getting increasingly frantic. Me, too. Escrow was scheduled to close on or before June 23 and here we were at the second week of June with the buyers hanging up the process.

Turned out, there was a rather big reason for that. They were in escrow selling their current home and their VA buyer’s financing fell through. (I’m telling you, that VA home loan thing is a mess, which makes sense given that the entire VA is a Kafkaesque nightmare.)

So here we are six weeks in with these buyers and their agent finally comes clean. It matters because the sale of our house is contingent on them getting financing, which they can’t do until their current home sells. They, who initially wanted a very fast escrow, now need an extension of time.

Absolutely everything is done on this deal: the appraisal came in at value, the buyers’ inspection was done, the termite report was clean, all the details…done. Except their loan funding. They’ve offered to release part of their earnest money deposit to us to cover the house expenses (and it would be non-refundable) in return for an extra 30 days for escrow. Their agent has another written offer on their property, and two verbal offers.

There’s no downside to giving them the extra time versus the hassle of re-listing the house and starting over again with another buyer. And as it happens, the amount they’re giving us is almost double the amount they demanded for repairs, so there’s a little karmic payback.

I really had no idea how complicated divorce would be, with all these moving parts.

And the mountain of paperwork.

A Few of My Favorite Things

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Because I can only stand so much of my own divorce, here are a few things that I love and that make me happy:

 

My Laptop

I bought myself a laptop last Fall when it became clear that sharing a computer with kid #3 was no longer an option. It was one of my top five best decisions last year. I can cart it around the house; blog from my bed; practice touch typing with a wired keyboard at the kitchen table; and follow online recipes while I cook. Love.

 

White Tea

When the Keurig coffeemaker went on to its final glory, I dusted off my French press. A few weeks later I realized that I doctored my coffee with so much creamer, sweetener, flavored syrup, and whipped cream that it bore absolutely no resemblance to a cup of coffee. In fact, I didn’t really like the taste of unadulterated coffee. Huh.

And the caffeine was doing my menopause-induced sleep problems no good at all. I started drinking tea in the morning, which I liked better, and stumbled onto white tea, which is much better. It’s got far less caffeine and a lovely, light flavor. Win.

 

Crio Bru

Another lovely morning drink, but with no caffeine. It’s made from roasted cocoa beans (hello, dark chocolate) and claims to have a bunch of health benefits. I brew it in the French press and drink it with some coconut milk and sweetener. It tastes like hot cocoa, but has the consistency of tea or coffee. Yum.

 

My Kindle

I resisted the eReader bandwagon for years. For our final wedding anniversary, Voldemort gave me a Kindle, which I thought was kinda weird given my oft-stated dislike of them. Then I discovered the vast world of free ebooks. And the sublime wonder of carrying around several hundred books on a device that weighs maybe six ounces and fits in my purse. I love it. (And it turned out, my kids came up with the idea when Voldemort asked them, “What should I get Mom for a present?”)

 

The Public Library

As much as I love my Kindle, I still read actual, physical books. My budget doesn’t allow any room for new release hardback books, but I still want to read them. The recession must be over because my local library has really stepped up its purchase of new releases. Hallelujah. And I can even borrow ebooks for my Kindle, so hot damn!

 

davidji’s Meditations

I meditate every morning and davidji’s guided meditations are my favorites. His voice is amazing; I feel calm, relaxed, and safe. His lessons are accessible and down to earth. I never feel inferior or like I’m failing meditation. He offers completely free meditations on his website.

 

Summer Fruit

It’s June and that means peach season at last! I could eat peaches for every meal all summer long. My kids make fun of how many boxes of peaches I go through. Last year they kept track and I consumed 40 pounds…just me, no one else around here eats them. Which is great ‘cuz they’re all mine!  Plus there are cherries, plums, and nectarines.  All delicious.

 

This Song

 

What things make you happy or make things a little better in your life? What are a few of your favorite things?

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